Miami voted to abolish the pilot program of electric scooters

Once home to most electric scooters in the U.S., Miami is turning its back on micromobiles. Per the Miami Herald, city commissioners voted on Thursday to end a multi-year pilot that allowed companies like Bird and Lima to manage joint scooter rentals in the city center. Those companies now have until 5pm on Friday, November 19, to take over their electric scooters. If they do not obey in time, the city will seize the vehicles.

“We are closing it,” Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla told the publication. “That’s it.” As in many other cities across the U.S. and other parts of the world, electric scooters have been a source of controversy in Miami. Supporters argued it was an effective last-mile travel solution, while critics said they made city sidewalks unsafe. It is the latter view that influenced the commission’s vote.

“On Biscayne Boulevard, at any time of the day, you can see children on these scooters,” said Commissioner Diaz de la Portilla. “This is an accident waiting to happen.” Ken Russell, the only commissioner who voted against canceling the program, pointed out that he was a revenue generator for the city. Miami earned about $ 2.4 million through the pilot program, and used that money to finance new bike paths.

The vote found scooter companies unprepared. “We are extremely disappointed with the Commission’s hasty and short-sighted action to end the scooter program, taking away the safe and popular transportation option used by thousands of Miami residents every day and leaving dozens of workers out of work a week before Thanksgiving,” said Caroline Samponaro, vice president of transit, bicycle and scooter in Lyft, in a statement shared for Engadget.

As it is Miami Herald points out, there is a chance the scooters will return to Miami. City staff are drafting rules that would allow rental companies to bid for a contract to work in the city as part of a permanent program. But based on the fact that the Miami City Commission would have to vote to approve such a program, it is not clear whether there is enough support.

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Naveen Kumar

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